HUMAN movement is a central theme inspiring this year’s Salisbury International Arts Festival.

The festival features more than 100 events and runs over 16 days from Friday, May 22 to Saturday, June 6.

Athletes, dancers, musicians and international artists are going to form part of the 2020 festival with artists from countries including France, Spain, India and Australia coming to the city to celebrate the beauty, courage and joy of human movement.

Wiltshire Creative artistic director Gareth Machin, associate artist violinist Harriet Mackenzie and a team of curators, have put together a diverse programme of music, theatre, film, dance, spoken word, visual arts, and family events.

Gareth said: “There will be something for absolutely everyone in and around Salisbury to enjoy at this year’s International Arts Festival, as we celebrate the beauty, courage and joy of human movement. We’re excited to be bringing international artists to Salisbury this summer celebrating dance, sport and incredible journeys alongside incredible music and so much more.”

The festival is going to be a major part of Salisbury 2020: A City on the Move, marking the 800th anniversary of the founding of modern Salisbury.

Gareth says the festival team wanted to ensure Salisbury’s story and the anniversary of the foundation of the city was “centre stage” at this year’s event.

He added: “We wanted to make sure that we working with our partners in the city to make sure that the Salisbury story, the anniversary of the foundation of the city was centre stage this year . For us that is a story about movement, so moving the city from Old Sarum to its current site. We wanted to reflect that in a number of different ways so in part it’s about celebrating the beauty, joy and courage of the movement of the human body. It is also about the fact that it is an incredible journey and so throughout the festival there will be a number of pieces that will have started with their inspiration being incredible journeys and we will also be meeting a lot of people who have completed extraordinary journeys .

“We also want to use the fact that 800 years there was an opportunity to build a city from scratch as an opportunity to look forward and reflect on what is next for the city in the 21st century, both pretty generally and for Salisbury specifically.”

A day long fiesta of free outdoor music, sport, theatre, circus, dance and craft comes to the city on Sunday, May 24 as part of Move It! involving professional artists and community groups as they animate the route from Old Sarum to Salisbury Cathedral, retracing the movement of the relocation of the cathedral to its current site.

The Move It! journey will culminate with the amazing work of French artist Olivier Grossetête, who, with the public’s help, will recreate the lost Bell Tower in the Cathedral Close in a stunning cardboard structure.

Harriet will perform Bach’s incomparable solo violin Partita in D minor alongside ballet dancers in the premiere of a new piece of choreography, Bach and Ballet, which is a co-production between Wiltshire Creative and the Liberation International Music Festival in Jersey.

Harriet will also perform as part of a performance of Cecilia’s McDowall’s Everyday Wonders: The Girl from Aleppo – an extraordinary cantata for children’s voices that tells the story of Nujeen Mustafa, the young wheelchair-bound Kurdish refugee, and her remarkable journey across Europe.

The festival opens with Stone Songs composed by Howard Moody and featuring the Festival Chorus and La Folia musicians in a performance inspired by the Medieval chants that have resonated from the cathedral’s stones since the 13th century.

Other musical performances include the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performing Dvorak’s ‘New World’ Symphony in the grandeur of Salisbury Cathedral; jazz from Jacqui Dankworth and trio.

Over the middle weekend of the festival, the focus falls on the future of Salisbury through a series of events including the European premiere of Congress, a co-production between Wiltshire Creative and Australian theatre makers All The Queen’s Men.

There are also dance performances from the acclaimed Hofesh Shechter Company, Ballet Central and Mapdance and comedy from Mark Steel and Seann Walsh.

The spoken word programme includes Paralympian and TV documentary maker Ade Adepitan, long-serving Radio 4 Today presenter John Humphrys, explorer Sir Robin-Knox Johnston and author and foreign correspondent Christina Lamb.

Family events will include free Family Fiestas in Tidworth and Bemerton, and performances of Dr Dolittle by Ilyria Theatre in the garden at the Rifles Museum in the Cathedral Close.

Free outdoor theatre, dance and circus is set to fill the city centre for City Encounters on Sunday, May 24 and Bank Holiday Monday (May 25).

Visual arts exhibitions include The Makers’ Tale at Salisbury Arts Centre examining craft in contemporary life and Flow State by ceramicist Jo Taylor at Arundells in the Cathedral Close.

Theatre performances will include Macbeth presented by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men in the open air in Rack Close, part of the Cathedral Close.

The Grapes of Wrath, Ai Weiwei’s Human Flow and March of the Penguins 2 feature in the film programme of the festival.

The festival programme will also see work being created for the festival.

Gareth said: “For us it is about creating work that is unique so people have to come to Salisbury to see it, they won’t be able to see it anywhere else. The focus is very much on Salisbury.”

General booking opens on March 13. Go to or call 01722 320333 for more information.